I don’t usually use this blog to talk about religion or God or spirituality. But I’ve taken a really long hiatus from blogging, and I may as well write something meaningful as my first “I’m back” post.
It’s easy to question faith sometimes. Lately, it seems like bad news is all around. Wildfires, friends with sick parents, floods, high unemployment numbers, war. While I’ve always believed in some higher power, I’ve never been a church-goer. I’ve been a church-experimenter all my life, trying out various denominations since childhood. But I’ve never found one that truly speaks to me. I’ve always been more like that Emily Dickinson poem “Some keep the sabbath going to church, I keep it staying at home…” I find God in birds and trees and sunsets. I pray whenever it feels right, and most of the time I believe God will hear what is in my heart without me even saying the words.
This past weekend, I went to church out of obligation and courtesy. Patrick’s parents were in town, and so we went. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including churches. I’m not going to say it’s easy for me to attend a giant church. It’s hard to be around a large group of people who all seem so comfortable in a house of worship, who all consider the strangers around them part of their “church family.” I am not wired to think this way. I rarely accept dogma or doctrine, and in situations like these, I recoil, fearing that others around me will see right through me. But I am never turned away. And Sunday’s experience was slightly different than past experiences.
As I sat listening to a song about joy and sorrow, I watched a blind man in the pew nearby. His guide dog waited patiently underneath his seat, her snout the only part of her visible. I had seen this same man in the same pew the last time we visited this church, months ago. As I watched him sing the words of the song he clearly knew by heart, I felt surges of sadness and strength pulse through me at the same time. How could a man who presumably has never seen a baby smile or a field of wildflowers or a full moon believe in God so fervently? While I may be wrong to assume, I could tell just by looking at him sing that this man has been guided by God more than he has been by his dog. Before long, I was trying to hide my tears. There couldn’t have been a more slap-in-the-face way for a higher power to step in to let me know that you don’t need to see to believe and that blessings come in all forms. Faith is something you feel. It’s a magnet that pulls you even when you want to pull away. It’s the light that surrounds you always if you just choose to let it in.
I do not fault anyone (or myself during the moments where I doubt) who choose to not believe. I still do not consider myself religious, and I will continue to celebrate Christmas without much ado about Jesus. I’ll continue to want to meditate with Buddhists and practice vegetarianism with Hindus. After all, faith is a substance that knows no boundaries or categories, and it’s beautiful in whatever color you paint it. It’s wind on the water, creating one small wave after another, and who knows where it will carry you next.